Monday, December 1, 2008

Human Rights Act, Section 13

Never ask a question if you fear the answer. Jennifer Lynch, chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, had no such fear when she paid University of Windsor law professor $50,000 to report on Section 13 of The Canadian Human Rights Act. She did not anticipate the answer she got.

Contrary to Lynch's expectations, Moon recommended curtailing the commission's mandate. He recommended that hate speech be dealt with by our courts, not human rights commissions where the usual rules of fairness find scant application.

Rather than accept the report, Commissioner Lynch has launched a consultative process -- an obvious delaying tactic. Given that she recently hired a communications firm, may we fear some kind of public relations offensive? Will she then refer the matter to Parliament? Fortunately, some Members of Parliament are already planning to act on the report.

No law or commission has ever erased prejudice or bigotry. This has always been a matter for educators -- a role commissioners are decidedly ill equipped to play.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Universities and Freedom of Expression

Have the censorship-prone, politically-correct taken over our universities?

In February, the York University Federation of Students denied their fellow students space for a debate on abortion. The issue quickly became the right to express one's views. The students federation denied the pro-life students the enjoyment of that freedom.

The justification for censorship was that the subject matter might "upset, appall or traumatize sensitive" students. Surprised and intimidated by media coverage, the federation reversed itself. A friendly debate ensued, with no reports of anyone rendered upset, appalled or traumatized.

To its credit, the University of Waterloo held the same debate without incident.

About the same time, McMaster University administration cancelled a proposed Israeli Apartheid Week. Curiously enough, the same York Federation that initially banned a debate on abortion, objected to McMaster's suppression of free speech.

In 2007, pro-life students were denied official recognition by British Columbia's Capilano College, Kelowna College, and University of Victoria, as were similar groups at Newfoundland's Memorial University, Lakehead University, and Carlton University.

Carlton's student council dropped its support for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Fund when it learned that  cystic fibrosis was a white man's disease. It was therefore unworthy of support as not being sufficiently inclusive. Does that mean these students will never support the fight against sickle cell anemia which only afflicts black people? To their credit, the council reversed its position, but the concern over misguided political correctness continues.

Some students, and not a few interloping gay activists, at Ryerson University protested, less than peacefully, at the granting of an honorary degree to Margaret Somerville. The ethicist from McGill University is an advocate of the traditional family, something certain activists oppose.

In an edict smacking of vigilantism, officials at the University of Calgary will cancel your debate, talk, presentation, whatever, should they fear the slightest possibility of violence. That's tantamount to censorship by threat of violence. Does the university cancel raucous debate over student fee increases?

Queen's University joined this parade to oblivion by creating an "Intergroup Dialogue Program." This initiative pays students to roam the corridors of academe seeking out the private expression of opinions officialdom deems offensive, and substitute in their place the politically correct version.

The common media condemned this version of censorship, but not that related to abortion. Is this yet another example of selective reporting in order to impose on the general public another's view of the world?

What is it with certain young people, merely a few years out of high school, that they feel competent to judge opinions, withhold the right to express them, and replace them with their own? Let us hope we are not talking about future activist supreme court judges, or biased media editors, whom we already have in over-abundance.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Globe and Mail and democracy

What is it that The Globe and Mail does not understand about democracy?

The issue in certain states in the recent U.S. elections was whether or not marriage was exclusively something between a man and a woman. Voters in most states affirmed their belief that such is the case. California made this affirmation for the second time when a majority voted for Proposition 8.

In a Globe and Mail editorial one can charitably describe as sniveling and churlish, this newspaper decried an exercise in democracy as backward, the work of social-conservative Republicans, a message of exclusion, et cetera.

In a most egregious and unforgivable statement, the editorialist observed that the California proposition was supported by 70 per cent of black voters. In a 19th century mind-set, the editorial opined, "That is not surprising, given higher rates of religiosity." My dictionary defines "religiosity" as sanctimonious. In Globe parlance, it is code for uneducated, backward African Americans.

This type of narrow thinking has provoked outbursts of racism in California. Homosexuals attacked, insulted and swore at black people for the democratic expression of opinion homosexuals describe as hate. The world awaits the Globe's expression of disapproval of: church invasions and vandalism by gay protesters, a gay theatre owner in California black-balling a director who supported Proposition 8, people being thrown to the ground, urinated on, shouted at and swarmed. And disapproval of mailing packages of white powder. The Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival was forced to resign because he donated to the Proposition 8 campaign. All this because homosexuals disagree with traditional marriage. And when one defends marriage, it is called hate speech.

Had the vote gone the other way, the Globe would have chastised complainers for not understanding that the people have spoken. Democracy is good only if one agrees with its results.

In Canada, the dilution of traditional marriage was imposed on us by a mere handful of activist judges across the country, cheered on by the common media. In Ontario, three judges purported to speak for all of us. The daughter of one of them, Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, was living in a lesbian relationship at the time her father signed the judgement. The obvious appearance of bias did not register on McMurtry. He  refused to withdraw from the case. Two weeks later, the Chief Justice of Ontario attended a party where he danced with the litigants who earlier had appeared before him.

The next step in this tawdry process will be jurists declaring unconstitutional laws against polygamy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The promised contentment

In its November 1968 issue, Mechanix Illustrated informed the world, "People will have more time for leisure activities in the year 2008. The average work day is about four hours."

The sixties was a time which Prime Minister Lester Pearson described as one of "rising expectations." This spirit of optimism carried on through the primeministership of Pierre Trudeau.

Then what happened? What is now happening?

How would the Wright brothers react if told that within 60 years of their first flight, man would set foot on the moon?

How would Graham Bell react if told that in the next century people will communicate around the world and into space?

How would Henry Ford react if told that in his century there would be millions of cars around the world available at reasonable cost?

How would John Maynard Keynes react if told that between 1950 and 1975 the Gross World Product would double?

How would people still living today react if told when they were still young that in their lifetime there would be machines to wash our dishes, to wash clothes and dry them, to offer instant world-wide communication, to record music and make it available to all, to help diagnose and help cure diseases which then even had no names?

No doubt, they would all think enviously of us. How great life will be. What luxury these devices will bring with the reduced the work week. With the drudgery abolished, work will be more interesting. Life will be great. What else could result with all those time-saving devices but more time to relax and enjoy life?

Instead of easing the burdens of life, each technological advance seems to increase stress in our lives. We work overtime to produce time-saving devices. What has happened to the time saved by these devices? It is estimated that the caveman worked no more than 20 hours a week to produce the necessities of life. Today, some of work three times those hours and produce less.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Pan Am Games

A letter to The Toronto Star. Unpublished

Re Time for Ottawa to help Games bid, Editorial June 10 (2008)

With regard to the 2015 Pan Am Games, you claim that everyone is in the game except the federal government. Everyone? What about the taxpayer who will ultimately pay for this $1.77 billion extravaganza? (By February 2012, the estimated cost has apparently been reduced to $1.4 billion.) History teaches that such cost estimates are critically understated. How can the voice of the people be heard when the discussions are held behind closed doors?

Among the benefits will be sports facilities and some swimming pools. Strange, as Toronto has just closed several swimming pools due to lack of funds. The taxpayer should be reminded of the financial fiasco of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Their municipal debt was not cleared off until 2006, and the city has been left with a crumbling Olympic white elephant to feed.

The taxpayer should be reminded of the still on-going financial mess of the Vancouver Olympics -- another financial fiasco.

The cost of 2004 Athens Olympics caused the debt rating for the entire nation to be lowered from stable to negative. The Greek debt will be paid for in part by people yet unborn. Because the boom in tourism promised by the Olympic promoters did not materialize, the International Monetary Fund has declared that Greece must slash wages and social spending.

And of course, members of the Canadian Olympic Committee are currently on hand promoting their agenda through the Pan Am Games.

Your editorial states that "spending by all levels of government could be spread over several years." Would you approve of a 30-year debt for Toronto taxpayers as happened in Montreal? Your hint at good things to come contains the hollow echo of those businessmen and media who promised that the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) would not cost the public a cent. The Toronto taxpayer took a bath on that one.

If we really want the governmental transparency the media so strongly advocates, let's have public input on this mind-boggling expenditure. Why does the media not advocate public consultation for public expenditures?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Our fulsome media

An unacknowledged email to the Toronto Star

Re Why apology matters to us all, Editorial, June 11, 2008

You write that the "aboriginals have long sought . . . an unequivocal and fulsome apology." Unequivocal, yes. Fulsome, never.

An unacknowledged email to CBC radio

Re five o'clock report, June 11, 2008

Your reporter (name charitably deleted) has just informed us that the Prime Minister delivered a "fulsome" apology. That's the word he used. Don't fret, he's in good company. The lead editorial in today's Toronto Star made the same error. Does no one in the media own a dictionary?